Spurs rise off bottom three
Tottenham climbed out of the English Premier League relegation zone as Roman Pavlyuchenko clinched a 1-0 win over ten-man Blackburn on Sunday. Pavlyuchenho struck early at White Hart Lane and Tottenham's task was made easier when Blackburn defender Martin Olsson was sent off before half-time for two fouls in quick succession on Aaron Lennon.
The victory gave Tottenham, now in 14th place, their sixth success in eight matches under Harry Redknapp and provided the perfect response to defeat at Fulham last week. While Tottenham remain on the up, Blackburn have slumped to second bottom on the back of eight league matches without a win.
Since beating Newcastle in September, Paul Ince's side have lost five times and the former Manchester United and England star will surely come under close scrutiny if results don't improve quickly. Redknapp opted to pair Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent in his forward line for the first time but it was his goalkeeper who was once again the centre of attention early on.
Heurelho Gomes has endured a miserable time since his pre-season move from PSV Eindhoven and Redknapp had responded by sacking Tottenham's goalkeeping coach in midweek. There was no sign of any immediate improvement in the Brazilian's confidence though as he fumbled a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner in the early stages, with Vedran Corluka hacking clear to save his blushes.
At the other end, former Spurs keeper Paul Robinson received a warm welcome from Spurs fans but he was picking the ball out of the net by the ninth minute. Olsson's nightmare day started when he gifted possession to Lennon, who surged into the penalty area and squared for Pavlyuchenko to side-foot past Robinson.
Pavlyuchenko could have doubled the lead eight minutes later when his header hit the post from former Blackburn star David Bentley's free-kick, then New Zealander Ryan Nelsen cleared off the line when Ledley King steered the rebound goalwards.
Gomes looked nervous again as he rushed off his line and allowed Brett Emerton to lob towards goal, but Jonathan Woodgate headed clear. That near-miss was followed by another when Benni McCarthy stabbed over from a promising position as the Spurs defence waited in vain for an offside flag.
Olsson's efforts earned him a yellow card when he tripped Lennon, then the Spurs winger flashed wide after an incisive run.
Blackburn's hopes of an equaliser suffered a blow in the 39th minute when Olsson was sent for a second booking after chopping down Lennon again. It took a superb stop from Robinson to stop Lennon rubbing salt into the wounds from the resulting free-kick.
Blackburn had struggled to keep a tight rein on Tottenham in the first period and Ince responded by replacing McCarthy with Danny Simpson at half-time.Roque Santa Cruz was left in attack on his own as a result but the Paraguayan was still a threat. He got on the end of a free-kick early in the second half but his header was straight at Gomes.
Tom Huddlestone tried his luck with a curling long-range effort moments later. The Tottenham midfielder's powerful strike narrowly cleared the crossbar but Rovers were already beaten.